News A referendum will be held by the end of 2017 if the Conservatives win the next election

Sir Nicholas Macpherson is accused of trying to scare the public into a Yes vote in an EU referendum

BA challenged over transatlantic alliance plan

British Airways faces a battle to go ahead with its planned alliance on transatlantic routes with giant US carrier American Airlines (AA), it was revealed today.

Hitch delays new BA luxury transatlantic service

British Airways suffered an embarrassing hitch to its new luxury transatlantic service today.

True Murder, By Yaba Badoe

"Even now, after all these years, I can hardly bear to look in a mirror," is the opening line of this dark, atmospheric, densely patterned novel. Ghanaian pre-teenager Ajuba is sent to boarding school in Devon. A lonely, confused child, she befriends the charismatic Polly Venus, who talks entirely in transatlantic clichés ("Hallo?", "That totally sucks!", "You just don't get it, do you?"). Exploring the attic of Polly's house they find a bundle of what they take to be kitten bones. But they're not. They are the bones of babies.

The Bagel, By Maria Balinska

The famous story of the Polish defeat of the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 being celebrated by the croissant is now thought to be apocryphal. Another baked commemoration of this event is possibly more credible – rolls in the shape of turbans and stirrups ("beugels" in German). Certainly the bagel became a staple of Yiddish communities in Poland.

DVD: Lie To Me (15)

Following Hugh Laurie's transatlantic success in House, British actors are enjoying a departure from their traditional role as sneering malcontent or hapless sidekick.

The feral beast: Barber says 'bye-bye'

Another blow for The Observer. Lynn Barber is jumping ship. The legendary interviewer, whose autobiography, An Education, has been adapted into a film by Nick Hornby due out next month, is said to be quitting The Observer in its darkest hour and decamping to the warm bosom of The Sunday Times.

Adrian Hamilton: Two-party politics is doing us no good

On the big questions the Tories and Labour seem determined to avoid any debate at all

Government downgrades terrorist threat level

The UK terrorist threat level has been downgraded from "severe" to "substantial", Home Secretary Alan Johnson said today.

Observations: Islington plays host to Europe's first 'Literary Death Match'

Marlowe aside, writers are probably the last people you'd expect to find in a bar brawl. But next Tuesday, the Old Queen's Head in Islington, north London will be the venue for Europe's first "Literary Death Match". Courtesy of Opium, an American literary magazine, the death match has become a feature of the cultural calendar in cities across the US, featuring such esteemed participants as Tom Perrotta (author of Little Children and Election), Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) and Moby (the musician, not the whale).

Caffari and co beat British Isles record

The all-woman crew of Dee Caffari, Samantha Davies, Miranda Merron and Alex Sizer yesterday knocked over 17 hours off the record for sailing non-stop round the British Isles, setting a new time of six days 11hrs 30min 53sec in the Caffari’s Open 60, Aviva.

Leading article: Still semi-detached from Europe

The chickens of Gordon Brown's G20 summit in London came home to roost yesterday in Brussels at an EU summit in which Britain once again appeared embattled and bereft of ideas. In London in April the Prime Minister staked his claim as a leader of the western world in its fight against the recession on a close alliance with the United States and a demand for reflation – which most of Europe rejected.

Transatlantic pilot dies mid-flight

Co-pilots were forced to take over the controls and land a transatlantic passenger jet in the US today after the captain died mid-flight.

Telefonica dominate Volvo Ocean Race

A first and a third for Bouwe Bekking in Telefonica Blue reinforced Spain’s growing dominance of the inshore stages of the Volvo race yesterday as sistership Telefonica Black scored a second and a fourth.

EU competition probe could hit BA's American dream

Multiple anti-trust investigations question transatlantic agreements
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Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones